The month of May is Nevada Wildfire Awareness Month. The purpose of the month is to build awareness and promote action concerning the wildfire threat to Nevada homes and communities. Unfortunately, we are seeing more wildfires occurring at unexpected times of the year, such as the November 2011 Caughlin Fire in Washoe County. With that in mind, this year our message is “Prepare Now! Wildfire Knows No Season.”
Many Nevadans believe that the proper response to the wildfire threat occurs once a fire starts and firefighters and firefighting equipment arrive. While this is certainly a crucial part of protecting communities from wildfire, it may not be the most important. Actions taken before a fire play a critical role in reducing the impacts wildfires have on our homes and neighborhoods. And there are actions residents of Nevada’s fire-prone communities can take year-round to be prepared.
Here are some tips to help you prepare your home, family and community for wildfire year-round:
- Winter is the perfect time to complete a home inventory, prepare an evacuation plan for you and your household and prepare a to-go bag.
- Spring is when you can begin working on your defensible space clean-up, check structures for any needed improvements to prevent ember entry and practice a family evacuation.
- Summer is a good time to connect with your neighbors to encourage community projects to help reduce the wildfire threat, maintain your defensible space and register your home and cell phones for your local emergency response system (often called reverse 9-1-1).
- Fall provides the opportunity to check areas where burning embers might accumulate on your property during a wildfire. The places where the leaves pile up also tend to be where embers would go during a wildfire. Remove any easily-ignited materials such as dried grass from around these areas, and clean out leaves, needles and debris from your rain gutters.
For more specific information on these tips and for additional pre-fire activities, visit http://www.livingwithfire.info.
How do you know which pre-fire activities to adopt when preparing your home for wildfire? A good place to begin is to contact your local fire department or Nevada Division of Forestry office and ask if they perform defensible space inspections. You might also attend one of the many Nevada Wildfire Awareness Month activities taking place throughout the month. For a complete list of activities, visit http://www.livingwithfire.info/calendar or contact Sonya Sistare at 775-887-2252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To-Go Bag Essentials
The to-go bag should be easily accessible and filled with items needed to help you quickly and safely evacuate your home. When wildfire is approaching, you may only have enough time to retrieve this bag.
It should include things like:
- Personal toiletries
- Inventory of home contents and photographs/videotapes of the house and landscape
- Flashlight, portable radio tuned into to an emergency radio station and extra batteries
- Extra pair of eyeglasses
- A copy of “Fire Adapted Communities: Next Step in Wildfire Preparedness” that should be available at your local Cooperative Extension office or fire department
For more detailed information on preparing for wildfire evacuation, visit http://www.livingwithfire.info/before-the-fire.
Sonya Sistare is the senior manager of the Living With Fire Program at the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.